When visitors land on your homepage, what's their first takeaway? Can they tell at a glance what your brand has to offer? Have you told them why they should choose you over your competitors?
The copy on your homepage matters. Great website design is important, but if you don't get your message right your site will be all style and no substance. Use these 10 tips and you can produce homepage copy that engages your visitors and turns them into customers.
1. Know your customer
The first way to engage your site visitor is to understand what they're looking for. You'll want to develop user personas.
User personas are essentially fictional characters you create to understand your real-world customers. Think about the product or service you're offering, and who you're trying to appeal to. Then dig deeper and think about the person behind your target audience.
Try to determine what sort of person they are. What's their age? Their occupation? What's their annual salary? What are their hobbies and interests? Who influences their tastes and buying decisions? What are the obstacles they face?
Building user personas helps you understand what audience you're writing for. It helps you craft your message to speak directly to your customers. Knowing your audience is crucial to help you communicate in the most effective way.
Your homepage's headline is your selling message. Traditional marketing wisdom holds that 80% of people will read headlines while only 20% will read the rest of the copy in a piece of content. Getting your headline right is imperative.
A good headline should be 6–12 words, and should communicate the absolute most attractive benefit of your product or service. It should be targeted towards the user persona who's most likely to be sold on their need for your product or service.
Your headline should paint a picture for the reader. Rely on imagery and metaphor to help the reader envision how their life will be better if they become your customer. It should appeal to the reader on an emotional level.
3. Support your headline with short text
Next you'll want some brief text to support your headline. This should be positioned directly under your headline, and expand on the message you've just delivered. If you've created a vision for your reader of how your product or service will improve their life, use the text below to explain how it will achieve this.
This isn't the place to go into exhaustive detail on your brand's offering. You're still trying to appeal to emotion. For instance, if your product is a scheduling app, your headline could be focused on how your user wants a less stressful life, and your introductory text could focus on how your app will ensure they never forget an important meeting or appointment again.
You'll want to keep your introductory text brief. Two or three short, punchy sentences are best. You're trying to hook your reader in to explore your brand further, but you also want to communicate your value proposition clearly for website visitors who will stop reading at this point.
4. Keep it brief
Your entire homepage should be brief. While there's no rule chiseled in stone, try to keep your homepage to 1,000 words or less.
There is some disagreement on this point, as many web designers are trending towards single page websites that display all the site's content on one long page. But you should be able to thoroughly communicate your unique value proposition in as few words as possible.
5. Provide benefits
One of the golden rules of copywriting is to focus on benefits rather than features. Don't focus on what your product or service does. Focus on how it makes your customers' lives better.
Buying decisions are largely emotional. Consumers are looking for a feeling, not a feature. We buy a car with reversing cameras and side curtain airbags because we value the feeling of safety and security we get, not because we're in love with a bulleted list of features.
Use this emotion in your homepage copy. Tell the reader a story of how their life will look different when they use your product or service. Paint a picture of how it will make them feel. Talk about the emotional need your brand is addressing, not its list of functions.
6. Address objections
Try to think of every objection a potential buyer could have to using your product or service, and then answer them one by one. But don't address them as problems. Address the solution.
For instance, if you think a customer might believe your product is too complicated, talk about how simple it is to use. If they might be afraid it's too expensive, tell them about the value it provides and the money or time they'll save by using it. Think of any negative misconception someone could have about your brand, and then address it in a positive way. This removes the roadblocks keeping your homepage visitors from making a buying decision.
7. Offer proof
While it's important to tout your own benefits, your homepage visitors know you're speaking to them with an agenda. Of course you're going to present your product or service as indispensable. This is why you need to offer them some proof.
Include testimonials from satisfied customers or case studies about how your brand solved the needs of a real person or organisation. Testimonials back up your claims about your brand. They give your homepage visitors an outsider's perspective, and offer them a point of human connection.
8. Make it easy to scan
This may be a blow to your ego, but very few visitors are going to thoroughly read the sparkling copy you write for your homepage. It's still vital to get every word right, to make sure there are no spelling, grammar or punctuation errors and to communicate your message clearly, but you also want users to be able to skim your site and come away with the information they need.
The best way to make your site skimmable is to focus on headlines and subheads. Every section of your site should have a clear, eye-catching headline that summarizes the text supporting it. Make use of design elements like pullquotes and call-out boxes to grab attention. Make sure your best, most persuasive copy is front and center for readers who will only give your page a brief look.
9. Don’t forget SEO
A great site with sizzling copy and eye-popping design is no good if no one can find it. You have to prioritize search engine optimization , or SEO.
SEO is the practice of gaining greater visibility in search engines. You want your site to rank near the top of the search results for customers looking for your product or service.
The best way to do this is to research the words and phrases people are searching to find products and services similar to yours. Make sure your homepage uses these words and phrases, but work them in naturally. Both readers and search engines can tell when you're trying to stuff in keywords. Use natural language and answer the questions people are searching for, and search engines will reward you.
10. Call to action
Provide your homepage visitors with a clear call to action. What do you want them to do? Are you looking for email signups? Do you want them to complete a purchase online? Make the case for your product or service and then clearly tell your visitors the action you want them to take.
Calls to action can be used throughout your homepage, and you can add different calls to action that require varying levels of commitment from your homepage visitors. You can collect emails for potential leads (consider offering something like an e-book in return). As users work their way down the page and you make the case for your brand more persuasively, your calls to action can ask for more commitment, like adding a product to a cart or actually buying your good or service.
Bonus Tip: Hire a professional
If you're not confident about your writing skills, consider hiring a freelance writer to help compose the copy on your homepage. A good freelance writer understands all the tips above, and knows how to implement them.